There have been many adjectives used to describe Osama bin Laden, but most of them have been the exact opposite of those that Michael Scheuer uses in his new biography: “pious, brave, generous, intelligent, charismatic, patient, visionary, stubborn, egalitarian, realistic.”
Scheuer’s purpose, he insists, is not to praise bin Laden, but to point out the dangers of misrepresenting the al Qaeda leader. “I think the real danger,” Scheuer says, “is that we’re fighting an enemy who doesn’t exist.”
Scheuer, the former chief of the CIA’s bin Laden unit, decided to draw as much as possible on bin Laden’s own words for his version.
“We keep trying to eliminate an enemy who we say hates our freedoms: women in the workplace, elections, Budweiser, R-rated movies. What I tried to do is to quote as extensively as I could from bin Laden’s corpus of material to show very clearly that he has never railed against our debauched society. The target of his anger and the target of the Muslim world’s anger is what the American government does and not what the American people think or how they live.”